WINDSOR, Conn., March 14, 2023—Propelled by the strong growth in the first half of 2022, U.S. life insurance premium totaled $15.3 billion, roughly level with the record-high premium sold in 2021, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Retail Individual Life Insurance Sales Summary for Fourth Quarter 2022.
“Life insurance sales slowed in the second half of the year as consumers’ worries about inflation and the economy increased and concerns about COVID-19 declined,” said John Carroll, senior vice president, LIMRA and LOMA. “The demand prompted by the pandemic, coupled with favorable regulatory changes, drove record sales and growth in 2021. As economic conditions shifted in 2022, consumer demand waned. As a result, LIMRA has forecast life insurance sales growth to remain level until 2024.”
Following the 26% growth in the fourth quarter of 2021, total new annualized premium fell 13% in fourth quarter 2022. All product lines experienced declines in the fourth quarter. Policy sales fell 10% in both the quarter and the year.
Whole life (WL) new premium dropped 19% in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared with results from the prior year. Fourth quarter of 2021 WL premium experienced the strongest quarterly premium growth for WL in 30 years. Overall, WL premium totaled $5.8 billion in 2022. While 5% lower than in 2021, it remains above pre-pandemic sales results. WL premium represented 38% of the individual life insurance market in 2022.
Term new premium growth fell 5% in the fourth quarter, year-over-year. In 2022, term new premium was $2.8 billion, 5% lower than the 2021 results. Term premium held a 19% market share in 2022.
“Inflation and economic uncertainty have an outsized impact on middle-income consumers,” noted Carroll. “Our research shows 1 in 10 middle-income consumers said they have put off buying or said they would put off buying needed insurance due to worsening economic conditions. Not surprisingly this impacted whole life and term sales in 2022.”
For the second consecutive quarter, variable universal life (VUL) new premium declined. VUL new premium fell 13% in the fourth quarter 2022, compared with the prior year’s growth of 65%. VUL premium totaled $1.8 billion in 2022, an 8% hike from 2021. VUL new premium represented 11% of the life insurance market in 2022.
Compared with the 29% premium growth for indexed universal life (IUL) in the fourth quarter 2021, IUL new premium fell 5% in the fourth quarter 2022. For the year, IUL new premium totaled $3.9 billion, up 13% over 2021 results. IUL held 25% of the total individual life insurance market in 2022.
“In the last half of 2021, IUL and VUL products experienced significant growth due to remarkable equity market growth in 2021 and IRC 7702. The impact of these factors dissipated in the third and fourth quarters of 2022, dampening sales of these products,” said Carroll.
Fixed universal life (fixed UL) new annualized premium dropped for the third consecutive quarter, down 31% in the fourth quarter, compared with prior year. In 2022, fixed UL new premium totaled $1.1 billion, a decline of 17% for the year. Fixed UL market share was 7% in 2022.
“As worries about the pandemic have receded, the impetus to purchase life insurance may have become less urgent for consumers this year. Yet our research shows there are more than 100 million American adults living with a coverage gap, leaving their families at risk should they die unexpectedly,” said Carroll. “It is critical for our industry to continue to highlight the important role life insurance plays in a family’s overall financial security and find innovative ways to help consumers get the coverage they need.”
To view the latest data table with U.S. life insurance sales trends visit LIMRA’s Fact Tank.
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